speak chinese like a native

鄂, 斐, 胚, 瞻, and 孽

Posted by johnb December 7, 2007 in the Group General Discussion.

Ah, Friday. The day of long lunches and sleepy afternoons. It's our last Character Insanity of the week, so let's make it a good one, shall we?

Today's theme: uncommon characters.

We start off by looking at [è]. If you live in China (particularly central China) you'll see this character on license plates a lot, as it's the short name for Hubei (湖北 [húběi]) province. It's also a surname, but not a particularly common one. Radical: 邑 (163). Components: 咢口亏阝. Strokes: 11.

Second is [fěi], which my dictionary has as meaning "possessing literary talent." It is found in words like 斐然 [fěirán] "brilliant" (with reference to literature) and 斐斐 [fěifěi] "elegant, beautiful" (writing). However you'll most commonly see it as part of transliterated place names, like 斐济 [fěijì] -- "Fiji" -- and 斐冷翠 [fěilěngcuì] -- "Florence." Radical: 文 (67). Components: 非文. Strokes: 12.

Next we have [pēi], "germ." This character is used in lots of biology words, including 胚珠 [pēizhū] "ovule," 胚层 [pēicéng] "germinal layer," and 胚盘 [pēipán] "blastosphere" (Mrs. Cook, my 9th grade biology teacher, will be saddened to know that I have no idea what those words mean in English, either). It also combines with a character we've studied earlier, though -- -- to make 胚胎 [pēitāi] "embryo," which can refer to human embryos as well. Radical: 肉 (130). Components: 月丕不一. Strokes: 9.

Fourth, let's look at [zhān], meaning "look." This is a pretty uncommon character, and is found in such words as 观瞻 [guānzhān] -- "an image and the impression it makes" -- and 遥瞻 [yáozhān] -- a literary word meaning "to look into the distance." This is the sort of character that you can use to win bets with your Chinese friends about how many characters you know. Radical: 目 (109). Components: 目詹. Strokes: 18.

Finally, our most complex character of the day is [niè], which means "evil" or "sin." It can be found in words like 罪孽 [zuìniè] -- "wrongdoing, sin" -- and 孽鬼 [nièguǐ] -- "the demon of retribution." Fun stuff! It's also in the word 臣孽 [chénniè], which I actually heard in a Chinese period TV drama, which my dictionary defines as a "self-reference of a prince born by an imperial concubine in speaking the monarch." Radical: 子 (39). Components: 薛艹

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